London - World Rugby on Friday announced a team of 14 referees, six assistant referees and seven television match officials (TMOs) who will take charge of the Six Nations matches in February and March 2019.
Match official list for 2019 Six Nations
According to World Rugby’s official website, two South African officials are on the panel, with Jaco Peyper as referee and Marius Jonker as TMO.
Peyper will referee the match between Wales and England in Cardiff on February 23, while Jonker will be on TMO duty in two Tests - Scotland v Wales (Edinburgh, March 9) and Wales v Ireland (Cardiff, March 16)
The Six Nations gets under way on February 1, 2019 when France face Wales in Paris with England’s Wayne Barnes refereeing the opening encounter.
Reigning champions and current world No 2 Ireland kick off the following day against England in Dublin with Jerome Garces of France selected to referee the match.
The group of 14 referees selected for the championship come from six unions, including four French officials (Jerome Garces, Romain Poite, Mathieu Raynal and Pascal Gauzere), three from England (Wayne Barnes, Luke Pearce and Matthew Carley), three New Zealanders (Glen Jackson, Ben O’Keefe and Paul Williams).
Angus Gardner, recently announced World Rugby Referee of the Year for 2018, fellow Australian Nic Berry, Nigel Owens representing Wales and Peyper from South Africa complete the line-up. Berry is the only referee selected to take charge of two matches, he will oversee both France v Scotland and England v Italy.
With the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the horizon, match official performances over the period will be taken into account when the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee meets at the end of March to make the appointments for rugby’s showcase event.
From the 14 referees participating in the Six Nations, 12 will be selected to go to the Rugby World Cup, along with seven assistant referees and four TMOs. The match officials selected for the Rugby World Cup will participate in a preparation camp in Japan during the month of July to ensure they, like the players and teams, are fully primed for rugby’s greatest showpiece.
"The Six Nations championship will provide a very important platform for our Rugby World Cup 2019 preparations, with high intensity matches in front of exceptionally engaged, atmospheric crowds, giving our match officials a great opportunity to put into practice the hard work undertaken at our referee training and preparation camps," World Rugby's match officials selection committee chairperson Anthony Buchanan said.
"We have a very dedicated, experienced and talented group of match officials and there will be some very tough decisions to make regarding Rugby World Cup selection after the Six Nations performances have been appraised. The selectors are pleased with progress and are looking for consistency of clear and accurate decision-making in the biggest international fixtures and competitions, including the Six Nations.
"Our goal is to arrive at Rugby World Cup 2019 with the best-possible team of in-form, in-peak physical condition match officials. Just like the teams, they are focused on performing in Japan in the best condition of their lives on the greatest stage of rugby."